Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Hawks Need Another Shooter

Everybody could use another shooter (You want to argue strenuously that Phoenix doesn't and I'll probably concede in deference to my energy-draining cold.) but, as Sekou Smith quotes the ever popular unnamed scout, another shooter would push the Hawks from playoff hopeful to playoff habitue.

Sayeth the unnamed scout:
“They’ve got to have another shooter, or two man. Everybody could use more help in the post but it’s just not happening. There aren’t enough quality big men to go around. Plus, with Josh Smith and Al Horford, they’ve got two of the better young tweeners in the league. Neither of those guys is the ideal size, but they play off of each other perfectly. But what they can get, and what they desperately need, is another quality shooter. Other than Joe Johnson, they don’t have a guy that you’re worried about spotting up and knocking down shots in transition or in the half court game. Marvin Williams is on the path, but he’s still a guy you can take away by getting underneath him with a smaller, active guy. They don’t have another guy that scares you from distance. They just don’t. And if they did, that would open up the floor for the rest of those guys to operate a little easier. Sometimes a subtle thing like that can open up a team’s offense in ways they never imagined.”
As of today, the Hawks are 25th in the NBA in eFG%. They sit ahead of just the Nets, Sonics, Knicks, Clippers, and Bulls (combined winning percentage: .342). The three teams directly ahead of the Hawks are the Timberwolves, Bobcats, and 76ers.

Josh Smith is shooting 41.5% from the field (weighed down by his 23.1% shooting from beyond the arc and 26.8% shooting on two-point attempts outside 15 feet--more touches in the post, please), Zaza Pachulia and Shelden Williams are each shooting 41.7% from the field, Acie Law IV is shooting 39.6% from the field (that should pick up should he ever get completely healthy but likely not as a result of making more jumpers so much as finishing better at the rim), Hoopinion favorite (and admitted defenwsive liability) Salim Stoudamire is shooting 39.8% from the field.

That's effectively half the roster that hasn't been able to make the shots they're taking so far this year. It's not like Joe Johnson (46.3%), Anthony Johnson (47.4%), or Tyronn Lue (46.9%) are bettering the league average themselves. Despite this, the Hawks are 12-12 because they've been a top ten offense in terms of offensive rebounding and free throw rate. (That and they've been an outstanding defensive team for the last month. Allowing Damien Wilkins to score 41 points in Philips Arena seems to have delivered something of a wake up call.) If they could figure out a way to become even an almost-average shooting team, they'd be battling the Raptors for the fourth seed rather than participating in the scrum for the last couple playoff spots.

As I wrote earlier today, I think that the Hawks have another shooter on the roster and his name is Joe Johnson. More touches for Al Horford and Josh Smith (good passers both) in the post means more open jump shots for Johnson and Marvin Williams. Continuing to give most of the touches in the post to Johnson means more open jump shots for Smith and Anthony Johnson. I know which I would prefer were I Mike Woodson.

Also, were I Billy Knight (shudder) I'd be hard-pressed to turn any of the dreck on the back end of this roster into another shooter. I think someone on this list would be worth bringing in for the new year. Billy Thomas can shoot and guard people (At least I assume he can still manage the latter; ain't none of us getting younger.) but though I'm sentimental (Moneyrock!) I'm also open-minded enough to consider fairly any alternatives.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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